Levels of unemployment among the UK's young people are soaring. With the government calling on businesses to step in, Tara Craig asks employers, recruiters and education experts where the responsibility lies, and what employers can do to help.
Even more alarming than the news that unemployment in the UK has hit 2.43m, its highest level since 1995, is the fact that the number of 18 to 24-year-olds out of work reached 722,000 in the same period, up 46,000 from the three months to March 2009. The Office of National Statistics also reports that 12.6% of 16 to 24 year olds – around 928,000 people – are now unemployed.
And it doesn't look likely to improve any time soon. Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general Richard Lambert says: "These numbers are grim, but they would have been a lot worse but for the way that flexible working practices and pay freezes and cuts have limited the damage. So it is too soon to call the turn, and we still expect the unemployment rate to hit three million early next year."
Business secretary Lord Mandelson, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday, admitted that the current level of unemployment is unacceptable. Referring to the plight of the young unemployed, he said: "We need public and private employers, as well as those in the [charity] sector, to help us mount this national campaign to back young Britain."
While Lord Mandelson is looking to businesses to remedy the situation, Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, is calling on the government to do more to get people back into work. If they fail, he predicts another generation will be lost to mass unemployment.
Research released by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows 43% of 18-34 year olds believe not enough is being done by government, schools, universities and employers to help new graduates get their first jobs. Almost 67% blame a lack of government funding for the poor prospects fo